CBD Crackdown on Sweeps Through American Stores
Despite the legalization of hemp and hemp-derived products, states are following the FDA’s lead and cracking down on businesses, restaurants, and companies that are selling CBD-infused goods.
Where are CBD Products Legal in 2019?
In recent weeks, city and state officials in New York, Ohio, Maine, and North Carolina have begun the process of sending letters to companies selling CBD infused goods.
NYC CBD Crackdown
In New York City, which has been in the midst of a CBD boom started feeling the pressure last week when officials from the city’s Department of Health began visiting various businesses with CBD products on their shelves.
During their visit, officials reported confiscated $1,000 in CBD baked goods at the Fat Cat Kitchen on February 4 as part of “a routine inspection.”
According to the bakery’s owner, CJ Holm officials didn’t remove the products from the store but rather collected them in a plastic bag that was marked as “embargoed.” When embargoing the goods, Holm said city officials couldn’t even tell him why they were pursuing this course of action.
“I mean, this is crazy,” Holm told Eater Magazine which broke the story. “They couldn’t even intelligently explain to me exactly what the problem was when I spoke to them on the phone.”
New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene confirmed its activities in a statement ordering restaurants and retailers not to sell CBD-infused foods because they’ve not been deemed safe to consume by federal regulators.
“Restaurants in New York City are not permitted to add anything to food or drink that is not approved as safe to eat,” the department’s statement read. “The Health Department takes seriously its responsibility to protect New Yorkers’ health. Until cannabidiol (CBD) is deemed safe as a food additive, the Department is ordering restaurants not to offer products containing CBD.”
Ohio Officials Embargo CBD Statewide
As businesses in New York felt pressure from regulators, CBD brands in Ohio and Maine have also come under scrutiny.
In Ohio, which has a thriving medical marijuana industry, businesses have also seen their products embargoed by state officials.
According to The Cincinnati Enquirer and a statement from the Cincinnati Health Department, Ohio’s Department of Agriculture has been working with in-state health departments and police agencies in municipalities across the state to “embargo” CBD products.
As in New York City, Ohio’s embargo process requires that agencies work to identify, itemize, and in some cases removing CBD products from shelves.
Kate Zaidan, the proprietor of Dean’s Mediterranean Imports in Cincinnati’s Findlay Market, told reporters that the city health inspectors who visited her store Friday told her she had to stop selling CBD-infused product or have her inventory embargoed.
As one of the chemical constituents of cannabis, Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is considered to be in a gray zone when it comes to legality. Although hemp and hemp derived ingredients were legalized at the end of 2018 through the signing of the farm bill, the Drug Enforcement Administration has maintained that CBD-infused foods, supplements, and cosmetics are illegal since CBD is derived from cannabis.
Maine makes it clear CBD foods cannot be sold in stores
Even in Maine, which is one of the states with a legal recreational marijuana market, state health officials ordered businesses to take CBD-infused edibles off of their shelves in late January. Within days, local business owners and hemp farmers–all of whom had been banking heavily on the economic opportunity presented by the legalization of hemp–had planned to rally at the State Capitol in protest.
“We just had the carpet pulled out from under us,” Dawson Julia, the owner of a Maine CBD store, told reporters. “Hemp just got legalized nationally and now Maine wants to do a 180 and make it illegal here when we’ve been doing it with their blessing for two years now? How did CBD suddenly get unsafe? This is ridiculous. This cannot stand.”
North Carolina next on the list of states conducting a CBD crackdown
On Thursday, February 7 officials in North Carolina announced that they would be sending warning letters to companies selling non-approved CBD products. Joe Reardon, assistant commissioner for Consumer Protection with North Carolina’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, explained why the warnings are coming
“CBD is now a drug, so it is illegal to add a drug to food,” Reardon told WECT News. According to Reardon, FDA approval of the CBD-based medicine Epidiolex to help treat severe forms of epilepsy changed how the chemical was regulated.
In the 2018 Farm Bill, regulators also room for the FDA to classify CBD as a drug ingredient, this creating an onus for officials’ actions.
Regulators in North Carolina will send out letters Feb. 11 to companies in violation of state and federal law relating to CBD.
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